In the past few weeks, the Northeast has gotten rocked by blizzards. Sure, Connecticut and New York didn’t get hit as badly by Blizzard Juno as was predicted, but between the freezing rain, snow, ice, and brutal winds, chances are that you’ve trekked out into the snow a few times to shovel your driveway.
Today, I want to talk about some common snow shoveling injuries that people sustain. If you think that you have sustained one of these injuries while trying to shovel snow, be sure to seek medical attention immediately.
But it’s just snow!
You might be sitting at your computer thinking to yourself, “It’s just a little snow. How could I hurt myself spending 10 minutes shoveling my walkway?” The truth of the matter is that thousands of people seek medical attention every year for snow shoveling related injuries. Going to shovel snow is kind of like going to lift weights. The problem is that we do not treat it this way. We slap on some boots and head into the snow without warming up our muscles or making sure we have the proper gear on. The workload for our hearts rapidly increases and cold temperatures put more strain on our hearts and muscles. These factors combined lead to injury.
The general consensus is that the following injuries are the most common snow shoveling related injuries:
- Slipping and falling (injuring back, legs, shoulders, arms, etc.)
- Strained muscles due to overworking them.
- Ligament, tendon, muscle injuries.
- Lower back injuries.
- Broken bones.
- Getting hit with shovels.
- Broken fingers.
- Broken wrists.
- Heart related problems – even serious problems such as heart attacks.
- Death due to heart related problems.
Who is Most Likely to Sustain Snow Shoveling Injuries?
The majority of snow shoveling injuries occur for adults that are over the age of 55. More specifically, it is adult males who oftentimes face these injuries. However, at the same time, many children sustain injuries when shoveling snow. While snow shoveling can be a fun outdoor activity for teens or preteens, it is important that they are supervised by an adult and shown how to properly hold a shovel and shovel snow. This will prevent injuries such as slipping and falling or shoveling too much snow at once.
In order to protect yourself from snow shoveling injuries, it is important that you inform yourself about the proper technique of shoveling and remember not to overdo it. Many injuries occur due to fatigue. If something doesn’t feel right, take a break and go back to shoveling later. The snow will still be there! Also remember to wear appropriate clothing when you go to shovel. Never forget water-resistant gloves and good, slip resistant shoes. If you have been injured while shoveling snow, consult a doctor immediately. For more information, you can contact me by calling my office.
This might seem silly, but a quick stretch of your back, arms, and legs can loosen up your muscles and prevent strains. Stretching when the job is done is also in your best interest to prevent soreness and potentially injuring yourself in the next few days while doing something else.
You want to do this to avoid fatigued muscles, as fatigued muscles are more likely to cause strains.
Use the Proper Technique
You should bend at your knees and try to use your core instead of your back when shoveling snow. Try to avoid excessive twisting or sudden jerks to prevent strains as well.
Use the Proper Tools
Make sure that you use large, sturdy shovels that are meant for snow plowing when shoveling walkways or your driveway.
Watch Your Step
Black ice and slippery patches will abound after it has snowed. Make sure that you wear warm boots with good grip on the bottom of them and move slowly when shoveling your driveway.
If Already Injured, Have Someone Shovel for You
If you have even a minor back, ankle, or shoulder injury, you should avoid shoveling snow as this will exacerbate the problem.
Use a Snow Blower
However, make sure that you have added fuel before you start the machine, not while it is running, and remain alert while using the machine. Keep small children away from the snow blower and make sure you are alert when using it.
Watch Out for Frostbite
In order to avoid frostbite, it is important to wear heavy layers and clothes that are water repellent. Never shovel snow without gloves or proper boots on.
If you hire a neighborhood kid to shovel your driveway for you, and you have homeowners insurance, the policy should cover the costs if he or she is injured on the job. Make sure that you inform friends, family members, or neighbors who are shoveling your driveway for you of the risk of injury, and give them these prevention tips to avoid injuries. If someone is injured on your property, you should contact a personal injury lawyer and discuss the situation with him or her.